Almanac Sporting Juggernauts: The Basketball Phenomenon Not Bad Thanks turns 40 and that’s no April Fools’ Day Joke



The Melbourne grass-roots men’s Not Bad Thanks Basketball Club, the subject of the book Not Bad Thanks, today turned 40.


Book author, Graeme Willingham, who also happens to be one of the characters in the book, said the club was looking forward to starting its 81st season in the Victorian Business Houses Association.


“We have a tight-knit squad of 13 active players and another 15 not so active, so the Not Bad Thanks story will continue, as soon as COVID-19 is under control,” he said. ”We’ll get to 50 years and 100 seasons, no worries!”


Among club rules are teammates must greet each other with “Not bad thanks!” and respond with “Y’Self?”, and commit to ’giving it heaps’ on the court, attending The Clubrooms for at least one hour after each Thursday night game, learning the words of The NBT Anthem and embracing the club’s full social program.


“That’s why Not Bad Thanks lives on,” said Willingham. “Commitment to all things about our club!”


“We dated our launch on April 1, 1980 because we all thought our rustled-up team was a joke, but 40 years on, while it continues to be a hoot, our longevity suggests we’ve made a significant contribution to the game in Melbourne.”


The VBHBA recently nominated the book for Basketball Victoria’s Media Award (announcement held over due to COVID-19).


Over its 80 seasons in the VBHBA, Not Bad Thanks has won six premierships, ranging from E to A Reserve grades. Current players range in age from 26 to 75.


While cancelling a 60-strong dress-up 40th dinner at Lamaro’s Hotel next Saturday, the Club is today acknowledging its actual April Fools’ Day birthday.


This morning, the Club’s ‘choirmaster’, Lord Albert, produced a video of club paraphernalia (club singlets, T-shirts, caps, banners etc) clipped to a wire mesh gate, accompanied by His Lordship singing Happy Birthday Not Bad Thanks.


Tonight some 30 players will connect on Zoom to salute the milestone with the NBT Club Red (Elderton shiraz) while wearing club caps and T-shirts and singing the NBT Anthem (which is ‘Ennn Bee Tee’ over and over again to the tune of Silent Night).


About the club and the book which was launched late 2018 by basketball legend Lindsay Gaze:  NBA great Magic Johnson, The Harlem Globetrotters, notorious British Great Train Robber, the late Ronnie Biggs, and triple Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva have unlikely roles to play in the curious Not Bad Thanks story, alongside club songs and poetry, season dinners, crazy awards, the club’s own fully-licensed ‘clubrooms’, impromptu late-night excursions, rules and rituals and endless facts and figures.


The book does not trace the club’s season-by-season history; rather, it tells how the club grappled with tragedy, authority, an ‘outing’, generational challenges, equal opportunity, skill shortage, globalisation, an aging workforce, dysfunctional patrons, brushes with fame, media scrutiny … and, premiership droughts. Premierships were won, though, but in weird circumstances.


Lindsay Gaze wrote in the foreword:This is an essential addition to the library of Australian sports culture because, among other things, I believe it’s the first book to delve into grass-roots basketball. It’s worthy reading for anyone who has an interest in sport, especially the thousands who play for fun, yet compete for their version of glory. I expect readers, like me, will feel I would like to play in this team.”




  1. That is brilliant, Graeme.

  2. The NBT Birthday Song was heard all over North Fitzroy. And Lord Albert’s neighbours did think it was a big April Fools’ Day joke, but changed their minds when they saw Lord Albert’s back gate. A blaze of colour, with all of the singlets worn by players old and new pegged to the wire. The song has gone feral (not viral) and can now be found on U-Tube. NBT! Y’Selves? #21

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